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THE PERSIANS is a definitive new history of the Persian Empire, the world’s first superpower.

The Great Kings of Persia ruled over the largest Empire of antiquity, stretching from Libya to the Steppes of Asia, and from Ethiopia to Pakistan. At the heart of the Empire was the fabled palace-city of Persepolis where the Achaemenid monarchs held court in unparalleled grandeur. From here, Cyrus the Great, Darius, Xerxes, and their heirs passed laws, raised armies, and governed their multicultural Empire of enormous diversity.

The Achaemenids, however, were one of the great dysfunctional families of history. Brothers fought brothers for power, wives and concubines plotted to promote their sons to the throne, and eunuchs and courtiers vied for influence and prestige.

Our understanding of the Persian Empire has traditionally come from the histories of Greek writers such as Herodotus – and as such, over many centuries, our perspective has been skewed by ancient political and cultural agendas. Professor Llewellyn-Jones, however, calls upon original Achaemenid sources, including inscriptions, art, and recent archaeological discoveries in Iran, to create an authentic ‘Persian Version’ of this remarkable first great empire of antiquity – the Age of the Great Kings.


Touraj Daryaee, University of California, Irvine
Persians is a wonderful introduction to the ancient world's largest and most consequential empire. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones is one of the foremost scholars of Achaemenid history, and he gives us a gripping account of the history of ancient Persia, tracking how a small tribal society in southwestern Iran came to be the world's first superpower.
The Sunday Times
A gripping and more Persian-centric story... Llewellyn-Jones is very good at righting the record
Literary Review
A lively and highly readable revisionist history of the rule of the Persian 'Great Kings.'
Buzz Magazine
This book is as close as one can get to stepping back into the Persian Empire without the aid of a Tardis.
Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of JERUSALEM: THE BIOGRAPHY
Superb, authoritative, and compelling, a fresh history of the Persian Great Kings that combines exuberant storytelling with outstanding scholarship that is both entertaining and bracingly revisionist, filled with a cast of ruthless conquerors, queens, eunuchs and concubines that brings the Persian world blazingly to life through Persian instead of the usual Greek sources. The result is a tour de force.
Aidan M Dodson, Hon Professor of Egyptology, University of Bristol
A masterful account and evocation of the history and culture of the first true world empire
Adrian Goldsworthy, author of PHILIP AND ALEXANDER
Always lively, often challenging, this is a very welcome exploration of one of the greatest empires and cultures of the ancient world. Highly recommended
Helen King, Professor Emerita, Classical Studies, The Open University
This is an engaging, pacy account of the Persian Empire which is based on a rich range of sources. Going right up to the use of Cyrus the Great in modern Iran, the 'Persian Version' on which Professor Lloyd-Jones focuses has much to tell us about how different cultures create history and use it to tell their stories
David Stuttard, author of NEMESIS and PHOENIX
For too long the world of Achaemenid Persia has been viewed through the eyes of often hostile foreigners. In this compelling investigation Llewellyn-Jones draws on a wealth of evidence - from imposing cliff-cut inscriptions to tiny seal-rings - to reveal the Persian Version of its empire's stirring history, far removed from the traditional stereotype. Spotlighting not just the royal dynasty but a wealth of other characters (including ambitious courtiers, a wily Egyptian administrator, a Greek slave-girl enmeshed in Persia's great power game) he brings to vivid life a sophisticated, highly complex, tightly run society with an acute sense of its place within the cosmos, where devotion to the Truth could coexist with cruelty and violence, and imperialism with cultural and religious tolerance. Clear, convincing, and meticulously researched, Persians, The Age of the Great Kings is not just a timely reassessment of the world's first superpower - it's a wonderfully accessible page-turner to boot
Tom Holland, author of DOMINION
A brilliant feat of resurrection, restoring to the Persian Empire the colour, brilliance, and complexity that renders it one of the most fascinating and influential of ancient civilizations, and of which for so long, in most histories of antiquity, it has been bled.